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The Wrong Question

December 8, 2015

“If you ask yourself, ‘If today was my last day, would I still want to do the things I’m doing today?’ If the answer is ‘no’ too many days in a row, find something else to do.” – Steve Jobs (paraphrased probably; quoted from memory).

Steve Jobs is full of caa-caa. And so is any other millionaire who can afford to do what they want to do. Most of us live in the real world, with real commitments and real bills to pay.

One must weigh many factors before they decide what to do.

I have a nephew, whom I dearly love, who lives the life he wants to. He’s a freelance writer who has lived in Spain and now in Seattle. You have to be impressed with that; I know I am. He’s made the decision to own very little, rent, and date women who also want such a lifestyle. Those were his choices, and they work for him. Bravo.

In reading about creativity, I see all these quotes about pursuing your passion. Leave the drudgework job and do what you love!

Good advice if you want to live like my nephew. Or if what you love is making money, so any high-paying job will do.

The truth is, I’d happily not work. I work to make money, because the most important things to me are wife, kids and (shallow of me) comfortable living.  I’m fond of food and not fond of payment collectors.

Yet I’m not wired to work solely for money. I saw a great meme about success. “What People Think it Is” followed by a straight arrow shooting up. Then, “What it Really Is” followed by a squiggly line that eventually goes up. Success is hard work. It requires great dedication and sacrifice. Too often the sacrifice is wife, kids and comfy living. Such sacrifices I’m not willing to make. The best I can do is find a job that I at least find bearable with highlights of interest.

Eventually, the kids will be grown and require less of our money and more of theirs. Won’t matter, because then I need to concentrate on saving for retirement so my wife and I can live a comfy life when I’m old.

Am I bitter? Not a bit.

Resentful? …rarely.

Because all I have to do is look at my wife and kids to know I made the right choice. Sometimes I have to look at my wife and kids a lot.

That’s why I’m proud of my kids. They’ve all identified what they want early. They are each pursuing it while they’re young and unencumbered. They hit challenges of faith, heart and spirit, but I hope they know they’ll overcome them. I’m confident God directs their steps, even the backwards ones.

When I was young (all those many years ago), I got that advice a lot. Follow your heart! Do what you love!

I would like to give different advice to the young. Figure out how to monetize your dreams and build that skill! It isn’t selling out, it’s being American!

And I’d modify Steve Job’s question. “Is this the life you want?” Because work, what I “do,” is a very tiny part of what’s important to me. Some people can find their meaning in work. I find mine at home.

It’s a comfy place to be.




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